Pranab Presents Budget, Sensex Cheers, Opposition Walks out

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has tabled the Union Budget for 2010-11 in the Lok Sabha, which caused sensex to cheer but opposition to walk out, said media reports.

The 2010-11 general budget provided considerable relief to income tax payers by raising the slabs at two levels but hiked the central excise duty on non-petroleum products across the board from 8 to 10 per cent and the basic duty on crude and petroleum products besides effecting a one-rupee increase per litre on petrol and diesel, said reports

The budget also raised the specific rates of duty on portland cement and cement clinker. The basic duty of 5 per cent on crude petroleum, 7.5 per cent on diesel and petrol and 10 per cent on other refined products is being enhanced, reports said.

In his budget speech, Mukherjee said that Indian economy was facing grave uncertainty, with growth being decelerated at the time of interim and full budget for 2009-10, said report.

He said that there was added uncertainty at home because of subnormal southwest monsoon but now economy is in a far better position that it was eight years ago, said report.

Mukherjee said that India weathered economic crisis well and the first challenge for the government is now to swiftly regain high GDP growth path of 9 per cent, report said.

“Second challenge is to harness economic growth to make it more inclusive and consolidate gains. We have seen impressive recovery in the past few months and can witness faster recovery in the coming months,” Mukherjee was quoted as saying.

Terming year 2009-10 as challenging for the Indian economy, the minister said that 18.5 per cent manufacturing growth in December was the highest in two decades, said report.

He noted that after turnaround in November and December last year, figures for merchandise exports for January were encouraging, said report.

About double digit food inflation last year, Mukherjee said that it was because of bad monsoon and drought-like conditions, thoug ‘we have strengthened food security’, said report.

He said that the government is conscious of the situation of price rise and is taking steps to tackle it. The Finance Minister also said there is need to review stimulus imparted to the econony.

Sensex Cheers

The 30-share BSE Sensex cheered as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee unveiled Union Budget 2010, said media reports.

Reduction in fiscal deficit, cut in surcharge, more increase in money for infrastructure development, increase in FY11 divestment target, increase in personal tax slab to Rs 8 lakh etc all these pushed the Nifty above 4950 level.

Opposition Walks Out

For the first time during any Budget presentation, opposition MPs on Friday walked out of the Lok Sabha in protest against finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s move to increase excise duty by Re 1 per litre on petrol and diesel, said media reports.
The proposed changes in duties related to petroleum products in the Budget agitated and united entire Opposition which warned not to let Parliament run till a rollback is announced, said reports.

“This is a move that would lead to rise in prices of diesel and petrol and hit the common man already burdened by price rise,” Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj was quoted as saying immediately after the walkout.

The united opposition comprising of Swaraj as Left leaders like Gurudas Dasgupta, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD President Lalu Prasad etc addressed an impromptu joint press conference outside Parliament House.

“The entire opposition is together,” Prasad thundered attacking the government and accusing it of acting in a ‘dictatorial manner’ against the interests of the common people, said reports.

“We have boycotted the budget. Soon after a discussion on price rise, the government has increased the prices of petroleum products. This is anti-people,” Swaraj was quoted as saying.

NDA convenor and JD-U President Sharad Yadav launched a frontal attack against the government questioning the very sanctity of the debate on price rise as the government has effectively increased the prices of petroleum products, reports said.

“This is not a budget for the common people. This will only lead to more trouble for them as they are reeling under price rise,” Yadav was quoted as saying.

Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) termed budget as ‘anti-people’ and said that it would lead to street protests, said reports.

While RJD alleged that Congress adopted a dictatorial approach.

“When the entire country is suffering on account of price rise, they have increased the prices of petroleum products, fertilisers and cement. We appeal to the people to come out and join a movement against the government,” RJD chief Lalyu Prasad was quoted as saying.

SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav said that the Finance Minister yesterday assured Parliament that prices would come down and now the government is increasing the prices, said reports.

“This matter is above party politics. The farmers and workers of the country are suffering,” he was quoted as saying.

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